Which Senator Is Refusing to Let Chai Feldblum’s Senate Confirmation Move Forward?

Dr. Chai Feldblum

Nobody knows, actually. At least outside the secret world of the U.S. Senate. Chai Feldblum, the lesbian Georgetown Law professor, was appointed by Obama in September to become a commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Then the right-wing crazies entered the fray.

Inexplicably, Feldblum’s confirmation process is stalled, but public records do not indicate which senator blocked her. She was approved with other nominated commissioners by committee in December, but requires a final confirmation from the full Senate. And you’d be right to suspect involvement from the zealot troupe, including the Family Research Council, which promised to launch an Armageddon-style attack on Feldblum.

Already, Feldblum’s tacit support of polygamy, which she denounced, made the rounds in an effort to discredit her. And now there’s room to speculate the FRC, American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and Traditional Values Coalition have used their muscle to cockblock Feldblum’s momentum. They already submitted a joint letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (which OK’d her) complaining she’d use her post to inhibit religious freedoms with unnecessary anti-discrimination efforts.

Has their influence reached a sitting senator who’s operating in the shadows?

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) put a hold on more than 70 nominations last month to leverage support for sending certain Defense contracts to his home state. But following negative publicity surrounding the tactic, he removed “all but a few,” saying, through a spokesperson, that he was keeping holds only on those “directly related” to national security issues. The names of those nominees have not been made public.

There is no indication in the Congressional Record or the Senate Calendar as to who has put the hold on the confirmation of Feldblum and the others. While the Congress recently enacted legislation to make it harder for senators to anonymously put such holds on confirmations and bills, there are still ways in which they can do so.

The “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act,” passed in 2007, requires that a senator placing a hold on a nominee or bill to notify in writing either the Senate Majority or Minority Leader of his or her intent to do so. Then, he or she submits a notice of this intent to the Congressional Record.

But, according to a Congressional Research Service report in March 2008, the legislation provides “limited circumstances” under which an anonymous hold can still be implemented. One way is by making a public statement; but, so far, no senator has made a public statement that he or she intends to block consideration of the EEOC nominations.

C’mon, senator. Own up to your master plan.

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